The past several days I noticed many people posting about a study reporting the increasing popularity of acupuncture and other CAM among healthcare providers over the general population. Shock? Nope. I see my fair share of MDs, RNs, NPs, DPTs, PharmDs, LMTs and folks who work in the healthcare administrative arenas. They, more than anyone else, see the end effects of poorly managed chronic illness and reactive rather than proactive self-care. Contrary to popular opinion, they often make the best patients . . . and even joke about how bummed out they are that this stuff actually works!
My only gripe with the CAM classifications in the study is they include self-administered therapies like nutrition (which is an alternative to what, exactly, starving?) and exercises like pilates and yoga. I do not think anything that is diet, exercise, or rest related is complementary or alternative - you either do those things or you drop dead of something. Overall it was well done and I am glad to see an increase in acceptance that a patient's report of relief is a reliable resource, with or without an impressive postscript after their name!
This study provides the first population-based description of CAM use by U.S. health care workers. Our analyses reveal that, overall, health care workers are significantly more likely to use CAM therapies, particularly mind-body therapies, than the employed U.S. population. This is not surprising as health care workers, particularly those in ambulatory care settings, are more exposed to these methods, and exposure is probably correlated with higher use. Our results are also consistent with findings of previous studies documenting a high prevalence of CAM use in narrowly defined health care worker populations. For example, one study found that 63 percent of nurse practitioners in Connecticut reported personal use of CAM (Hayes and Alexander 2000), whereas another reported 96 percent of critical care nurses across the United States had personal experience with CAM (Lindquist, Tracy, and Savik 2003). Studies of physicians reveal a lower prevalence of personal CAM use. One study reported that 24 percent of physicians in Denver had personally used CAM (Corbin Winslow and Shapiro 2002), whereas another found that 49 percent of primary care clinicians in Kentucky reported personal use of CAM in the past year (Flannery et al. 2006). A high percentage of health professions faculty report CAM use, with 83 percent of primary care faculty at one medical school having ever used CAM (Levine, Weber-Levine, and Mayberry 2003) and 100 percent of nursing faculty in another university having personally used a CAM therapy (Halcon et al. 2003).
Johnson, P. J., Ward, A., Knutson, L. and Sendelbach, S. (2011), Personal Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) by U.S. Health Care Workers. Health Services Research. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2011.01304.x